“In the United States of America, you have the right to be an idiot, and you have the right to be lazy. But the bondage of poverty and ignorance is yours to bear.” The words of an old Baptist preacher carry a lot of truth, especially in a time when people have come to believe that the nameless and faceless taxpayer can subsidize their living.
Growing up in rural Arkansas, one often hears discussion of “The American Dream,” and depending upon who you ask, the definition might sound a little different. The best I can come up with is this: “The American Dream is the opportunity of upward mobility and the right of self-determination. In this Dream, I am the only one responsible for the quality and the direction of my own future.” These sentiments are echoed in the Preamble to the most recent Republican Party Platform which states that great outcomes can result “through our own exercise of individual responsibility and initiative…independent of government.”
While members of the socialist Left might argue that a college education should be free for all, my peers have started to suffer from a serious lack of incentive. When I see people leave with the same grades and degrees as me without putting in the work, I’m deeply offended. Not only does this degrade the quality of my education, but it also teaches my generation that work is unnecessary and unprofitable – at least compared to what the federal government can give you.
As someone still in the college environment, I know better than anyone the costs of higher education and the burden that high price tags can be on families who seek professional degrees. But I also understand the dignity of working and studying my way through school. My education is mine because I paid for it, with my own dollars, tears, and hours. I am a first-generation college student. My father left high school and left his family farm to join the United States Army to ensure a better life for his children. My mother left high school to become a cosmetologist. Both of my parents instilled in me the value of the American Dream and the hard work it takes to achieve it because they knew from a young age what it meant to work towards individual success. My father’s sacrifices for our country and my mother’s sacrifices for our family are what inspire me to be the person I am today.
A large percentage of the federal budget each year is spent on social welfare programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, fiscal year 2019 saw 23 percent of federal expenditures on Social Security, 25 percent on health insurance subsidies like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and 8 percent on safety net programs for income aid. Unfortunately, those programs which were meant to supplement lost income for the impoverished are often abused, leaving the national debt to increase and those in need to go without.
Sadly, we have entered a time in which the government mechanism incentivizes the refusal to work. Looking at more recent headlines, Arkansas small business owners have railed against the increases in pandemic unemployment assistance. “We can’t get anybody to work for us,” they say, always pointing out that an individual can earn more income on unemployment than what any employer can afford to provide.
If I drive down any street in Conway, I can see business after business with signs posted, saying, “We’re hiring,” and some of the most successful restaurants in Central Arkansas have closed for a lack of servers. When I graduate with my degree, will there be any hiring signs left? Or will all the doors be closed to me? Without workers, our small businesses close. Our tax revenues fall short. Our jobless rates skyrockets, and our economy falters. This disincentive has become a silent pandemic all its own, gradually killing my generation’s future and degrading the vision of the Founders.
Aside from policy issues, the Founders understood the fallibility of the human condition, and therefore, the fallibility of the governments created by men. Knowing this, the citizen- more profoundly, the Republican- must be bound to those God-authored Constitutional principles of justice and truth. With the power to determine our future, our government, and the timbre of our society, we also bear the burden of that power. As we share in the triumph of its successes, so too are we responsible for its failings. The freedom of the individual is a firm foundation upon which to stand, but at the same time, it is a hard stone upon which to fall.
By: Iverson Jackson Since the 1970s, the Conservative voice has screamed into the abyss of the D.C. machine, especially when it comes to the preservation of the unborn child. In a nation where foundational documents list God-ordained rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is shocking the millions of people every year that are murdered before even having the chance to breathe. This is an injustice not just to the American society, but also to the heart of God. Relying strictly upon the Republican Party’s first principle, a belief in God Almighty, Republicans believe firmly that all life is authored by that Creator God. From the Genesis narrative, we learn that Life is God-breathed. As Adam was created from the dust of the ground, God then breathed life into his nostrils. Acts 17:28 confirms, “For in Him we live and move, and have our being.” The Bible also shares the reaction of John the Baptist before his birth in response to Mary’s announcement of her pregnancy with Jesus, proving personality in utero. But if the Biblical narrative is not sufficient evidence, let us also look at the law. With the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, many state legislatures have drafted legislation to abolish abortion procedures within their state. In Arkansas’ case, the 93rd General Assembly recently passed S.B.6, a bill signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, that would ban all abortions in the state except for those to preserve or save the life of the mother. While a federal judge has blocked this, the Supreme Court has decided to hear a similar case from a Mississippi state law. Meanwhile, the ACLU has taken up the banner to represent abortion providers in Arkansas that are challenging S.B. 6, stating that it is an afront to reproductive freedom and privacy. But that brings forward an even more interesting logical debate. Whose rights are most valuable? Does the woman’s right to privacy outweigh the unborn’s right to life? Holding to the principle that all are created equal, the Republican is bound to the coequal rights of life and liberty for all, regardless of gestational age. Challengers suggest that laws like these are in direct conflict with the viability standard presented in Roe v. Wade. And, they’re right. This is why a Court challenge is so crucial. The viability standard essentially legalized abortion during “trimesters” in which the baby is assumed to be unable to survive outside the womb. Not only is this no longer relevant given the vast advances in medical technology since the Roe decision in 1973, but this also sets a dangerous precedent of discrimination on the basis of age and other demographic factors. If viability outside the womb remains the standard, the same logic could be applied to those of mental or physical disability or to those of lesser age. This logic would suggest that civil liberties become more potent with age or with demographic, and it is inconsistent with the Foundational principle that all are created equal. The fact remains that the presence of life is not measured in degrees or stages, but in a dichotomy. Life either is or it isn’t. While declared the “most pro-Life state in the country,” Arkansas sadly still lives with abortion rates that are too high. According to the Arkansas Department of Health’s 2020 Abortion Report, there were 3,154 babies aborted in the state in 2020, and approximately 36 percent of those seeking an abortion had previously had at least one other abortion. In 2019, the Department of Health reported 2,963 abortions, meaning the rate increased over six percent in 2020. Legislation is a valuable start, but Republicans must be called to do the work in their homes, their churches and their communities. We must become the resource where the expectant mother has none, and we must become the voice for the child who has none. While it remains a global and generational issue, Republicans have been stepping into the halls of Congress, the committee rooms of our state legislature, and the hearings of the highest Court in the land to ensure that all children are granted their right to life. Despite raised statistics, it must be the mission of Arkansas Republicans to speak for the voiceless, because if there is no defense of life, what hope is there for liberty?
At a recent meeting of a Republican County Committee, I was stopped by a gentleman who asked, “Why do Republicans insist on including God in every meeting? If you start every meeting with a prayer and a scripture reading, then you’re going to alienate every atheist who believes all the other Republican policies.”
Well, sir, we never intend to alienate anyone. Our vision for the Republican Party of Arkansas is a unified front of conservatism dedicated to seeing Republican numbers grow in elected office at every level of government. But, we do stand firm in the sacred duty we have as Americans- and yes, as Republicans- to recognize the Author and Creator of our most valued of liberties. Without that Creator, there is no platform to defend. From our faith in God Almighty, we derive our principles of life, individual liberty, and limited government.
The most recent Republican Party Platform, approved in 2020, states as its first principle, “the power of faith in God Almighty,” and the Preamble continues by asserting, “God is the source of our rights, and they are protected by imperfect individuals who rely on their God-given gifts to serve their neighbors.”
This language merely echoes that of the American Founders when they stated in the Declaration of Independence, “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We believe that it is no accident that life is the first among this list enumerated by our Founders. We hold fast in our defense of all human life as ordained and breathed by God, regardless of whether that life has been born or not.
The Declaration’s first paragraph also appeals to the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” This knowledge of the Enlightenment principle of natural rights was firmly placed in a concept of justice which was authored by an active and personal God.
The Founders understood that a government which shirks responsibility to this God-ordained justice or forgets God as the source of its power will be doomed to injustice, tyranny, and ultimate failure. This knowledge in the American Founders is what prompted their concession in the Declaration of Independence that it would be the right and the duty of the people to throw off such a tyranny should it arise.
It is from this, that many Founding Fathers rested their ideas of limited self-government upon, realizing the mutual responsibility of government to the defense of individual liberty and of the governed to maintain and pursue a virtuous society.
One of the nation’s leading heroes of limited government was Patrick Henry, that Virginia legislator and orator perhaps best known for saying, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” A devout Evangelical Christian, Henry wowed a 1774 gathering of the Virginia legislature when he drafted a resolution to set aside a day of fasting and prayer for “Divine Assistance” for their neighboring colonies facing attack by the British. He believed that “the morally elevating influence of Christianity” was necessary to preserve the newly formed republican government.
Henry had quite a legal and political career in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it was his rhetoric which influenced the drafting of the Bill of Rights into the Constitution. He was among the first to sound the alarm on what uncontrolled growth of a centralized national power could do to the rights which are held so dear by local communities and individuals. Henry understood, like many of the Founders, that a Bill of Rights which limited the power of the Government was necessary to preserve the rights of individuals. Without those enumerated limitations on government, liberty would be trampled under the hell-fired hoofbeats of tyranny.
Now, there is a growing belief that our Founding concepts of justice, equality, and rights are fluid, abstract things which are defined only by social construct. By removing God’s authorship of these rights, they degrade altogether. Under this government-authored approach, rights may change with the whims of each generation. Republicans understand through their faith that humans are fallible, and therefore, our governments are fallible. While we have inherited a legacy of freedom and prosperity, the removal of God from our political discourse will only reap subjugation and poverty upon our children.
So why do we insist on bringing God into it? Why do we have to pray at the beginning of our County Committee meetings? Because we want our kids and our grandkids to have their right to life, their right to self-determination, and their right to live without government intervention. In the words of President Ronald Reagan, “If we ever forget we are ‘one nation under God,’ we will be a nation gone under.”